Tucked away in the English countryside in the shadow of a manor house is one of the UK’s best kept secrets – the Malle Mile. FTR reports from one of our favourite events of the year so far.
Run by Malle London, makers of leather motorcycle panniers and accessories, and with a focus on a gentlemanly atmosphere, the Mile is a weekend like no other.
What is the Mile?
Robert Nightingale, joint founder of Malle (alongside Jonathan Cazzola), explains the idea behind the Mile: “Short sprint racing on motorcycles is really fun – you can tell within the first 100 yards who’s winning/won. So we came up with the idea for a gentlemanly motorcycle race – a ‘sporting’ race for those who just want to ride and care slightly less about the actual winning part.
“Jonathan and I grew up on a farm in England. Since the age of 11, we were taking old/cheap motorcycles apart, stripping them down and putting dirt tyres on them and racing them though the woods against each other.
“One December when it was cold and dark in the Malle studio we thought about creating something exciting to look forward to in the summer. We thought about creating a small motorcycle sprint race for anyone to race any kind of haphazard motorcycle, a race where no one really cares who wins – with customs, classics, choppers, scooters, tiny bikes, big bikes and everything in-between, being put against each other in a single race – wonderful chaos ensued.”
Start Your Engines
On a sun-baked hillside in the grounds, motorcycles poured in through the gates. This is no MotoGP, forget high-vis and full leathers, the colours here are subdued and the attire retro-inspired – the marshalls wear cream overalls and the bikes are nearly all naked customs, cafes, scramblers and trackers. The noise, however, could rival any MotoGP event. Singles, parallel twins, v-twins, two-strokes and even a few triples held their throttles wide open as they tackled the weekend’s three events.
The Saturday kicked off with the hill climb followed by the sprint. Sipping on Malle’s specially made Godspeed pale ale and reclining on hay bales to watch the action, you could be forgiven for thinking it was the 1950s.
Triumphs in Numbers
Triumphs were in full force, as Robert reflects: “There were some amazing Triumphs at this year’s Mile – Greg Hughs from Candy Shop Motors had some beautiful custom bikes that were all painted immaculately and looked fantastic in the sprint race. The London Motorcycle Museum brought some ‘rare as hen’s teeth’ Triumphs, including a 1928 overhead cam prototype GP machine.
“Then we had an amazing collection of classic and custom Triumphs that Dick Shepherd kindly curated into the race exhibition, with one of David Beckham’s Scramblers and a TT winner. Also, it was great to see John Giles racing up the Hill Climb at age 87 on a Triumph Tiger 350, he’s still so fast!”
As dusk set in and barbecue smoke replaced the haze of burned petrol, dancing, drinking and even boxing were on the cards for evening entertainment. Former British champion Ryan Pickard took to the ring and anyone in the crowd could challenge him. Far from a serious affair, it was good fun to watch guys and girls give their best as Ryan ducked and dodged every punch.
Sunday was a full day of ‘Motopolo’ – a cross between motocross and polo. Malle fielded their own team, who put on an impressive performance but were eventually beaten in the final by team Royal Enfield. Although small in scale, the Mile is growing in popularity, attracting the likes of Triumph ambassadors Charley Boorman and Mark Richardson.
The Malle team have struck a great balance between genuine motorcycle action, a relaxed atmosphere and evening entertainment – 2018’s Mile can’t come quick enough.